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Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
Anzac Cove encampment 1915.jpg
New Zealand soldiers encampment at Anzac Cove in 1915
Active 1915–1916
Country Australia Australia

New Zealand New Zealand

Branch Army
Type Corps
Part of Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
Nickname ANZAC
Anniversaries Anzac Day
William Birdwood

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial Force and 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The corps was disbanded in 1916 following the Allied evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula and the formation of I Anzac Corps and II Anzac Corps.



Plans for the formation of the corps began in November 1914 while the first contingent of Australian and New Zealand troops were still in convoy bound for, as they thought, Europe. However, following the experiences of the Canadian Expeditionary Force encamped on Salisbury Plain, it was decided not to subject the Australians and New Zealanders to the English winter and so they were diverted to Egypt for training before moving on to the Western Front in France.The British Secretary of State for War, Horatio Kitchener, appointed General William Birdwood, an officer of the British Indian Army, to the command of the corps and he furnished most of the corps staff from the Indian Army as well. Birdwood arrived in Cairo on 21 December 1914 to assume command of the corps.

It was originally intended to name the corps the Australasian Army Corps, this title being used in the unit diary, following the common practice of the time, which often saw New Zealanders and Australians compete together as Australasia in sporting events. However, protests from New Zealand led adoption of the name Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The administration clerks found the title too cumbersome so quickly adopted the abbreviation A. & N.Z.A.C. or simply ANZAC. Shortly afterwards it was officially adopted as the codename for the corps but it did not enter common usage amongst the troops until after the Gallipoli landings.

At the outset the corps comprised one complete division, the Australian 1st Division, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and two mounted brigades — the Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade (1st LH) and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR). Another convoy transporting an Australian infantry brigade (the 4th) and two light horse brigades arrived shortly afterwards. Initially the brigades were arranged by combining the two extra infantry brigades into the "New Zealand Division" and the mounted brigades into the "Mounted Division" but this was deemed unsatisfactory. Instead the New Zealand and Australian Division was formed with the two infantry brigades plus two mounted brigades (1st LH and NZMR). The remaining light horse brigades became corps troops. These two divisions would remain the core of ANZAC for the duration of its existence.

Despite being synonymous with Australia and New Zealand, ANZAC was a multi-national body. In addition to the many British officers in the corps and division staffs, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps contained, at various points, the 7th Brigade of the Indian Mountain Artillery, Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps troops, the Zion Mule Corps, 4 battalions from the Royal Naval Division, the British 13th (Western) Division, one brigade of the British 10th (Irish) Division and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade.

Later formations

Following the evacuation of Gallipoli in November 1915, the Australian and New Zealand units reassembled in Egypt. The New Zealand contingent expanded to form their own division; the New Zealand Division. The Australian Imperial Force underwent a major reorganization resulting in the formation of two new divisions; the 4th and 5th divisions. (The Australian 3rd Division was forming in Australia and would be sent directly to England and then to France.) These divisions were reformed into two corps; I Anzac Corps and II Anzac Corps. By this time, "Anzac" had ceased to be an acronym and had begun to be used as a term to describe any formation containing Australian or New Zealand units. I Anzac Corps, under the command of General Birdwood, departed for France in early 1916. II Anzac Corps, commanded by General Alexander Godley, followed soon after.

During World War II, the Australian I Corps HQ was moved to Greece during April 1941. As the corps also controlled the New Zealand 2nd Division (along with Greek and British formations), it was officially renamed Anzac Corps on April 12. The Battle of Greece was over in weeks and the corps HQ left Greece on April 23-24, with the name Anzac Corps no longer being used.[1] During the Vietnam War, two companies from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment were integrated into Royal Australian Regiment battalions. These integrated battalions had the suffix (ANZAC) added to their name (for example, 4 RAR became the 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion). The ANZAC Battle Group is an active battle group of Australian and New Zealand units deployed to Timor Leste as part of Operation Astute. The battle group was established in September 2006.

Social influence


  1. ^ D.M. Horner. "Blamey, Sir Thomas Albert (1884 - 1951)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 196-201.




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